Future Home of the Living God
by Louise Erdrich

A Book Review by Larry P. Madden home of god book cover

Cedar Hawk Songmaker picks the worst time in history to become pregnant.  The 26-year-old just reacquainted with a birth mother and family and wants nothing more than to have a happy healthy baby.  The universe, though, has different plans for the human race.  The latest novel by Turtle Mountain Chippewa writer Louise Erdrich is a dystopian thriller set in the not-too-distant future.  In it, humankind returns to the past, as evolution gets its wires crossed and sets everything in motion for a new world that's coming quickly.  

Cedar's journey is filled with suspense, tension, and unexpected turns.  The government seems to have gone mad, and so she flees to the land of her ancestral Indian reservation and encounters unexpected spiritual questions.   Stirring issues are laced throughout Erdrich's story, and she strikes the speculative bell on subjects of reproduction rights and freedoms along with faith and respect for the earth as a living entity. 

The always underlying fear for Native Americans is that genocide is the weapon of choice as the fascist-style evangelical government begins to collect pregnant women.  In reminiscence of pre-war Germany's treatment of the Jews, the government pursues women for reproduction purposes.  Tension and vulnerability run hand in hand as Cedar struggles with help from family, friends, and allies to stay free for her future child’s sake.

Erdrich is never shy to set her tales in her home state of Minnesota, but this work is quite different for the National Book Award winner.  She deftly steps into the realms of sci-fi without so much as a waver in her storytelling acumen.  In truth, Erdrich could write any book she pleases and her faithful would snatch it up, but this book can cross genres appealing to both apocalyptic and literary fiction fans alike.

The real world issues of reproduction and anatomical sovereignty faced by women in many parts of the world don’t take away, but rather add to the tension that makes this work an exciting read.  If you aren't familiar with her Erdrich’s work, ferret out one of her numerous bestsellers and enjoy.  I’m not a sci-fi fan by nature, but I still found this book an exciting read. 

The middle of winter is a time for traditional storytelling.  Erdrich is one of the best Indian country has produced, and so spend some time with her books and you’ll be all the better for it.  O'nee wee ( thank you).

Larry P. Madden (Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Wisconsin) was born and raised in the Sturgeon Bay area. A recent graduate of CMN, he enjoys the Powwow trail and strives to maintain balance on the red road.